The New York Mets have added a lot of depth this winter, leaving utility man T.J. Rivera as an afterthought for the 25-man roster.
T.J. Rivera emerged in 2016 as a super utility player for the New York Mets. Rivera has been nothing short of helpful to the Amazins while players missed time due to injuries. As the Mets continue to add players to their 2019 roster in the offseason, Rivera may find himself as the odd man out despite all he has done for New York the past two years.
Rivera has proven he could be very useful as he has appeared in many games at many positions over his Mets career. Over the past two years, Rivera has started 38 games at second base, 37 games at third base, and 21 games at first base.
Along with his defensive versatility, Rivera has shown he can handle the bat as well, in 2016 he played 33 games putting together a slash line of .333/.345/.476. He followed it up with a strong 2017 by batting .290 in 73 games.
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Having Rivera back on the roster in 2019 would be helpful as the team missed his abilities last season, as Rivera needed Tommy John surgery. However, it is hard to say right now how much playing time he will actually get. With the Mets putting emphasis on adding more players that can play multiple positions, they may have pushed Rivera out of their 2019 plans.
The crowded infield is very complex. Although it is arguably a good problem to have, the Mets just don’t have space for Rivera right now. The starting infield is looking like a combination of Robinson Cano, Amed Rosario, Jed Lowrie, and Todd Frazier. You also have rising prospect Peter Alonso waiting to take his place at first base and another super utility player in Jeff McNeil who can play almost anywhere.
From a 25-man roster standpoint, you can make a case that Rivera could probably be the last man on the bench, assuming they don’t opt to carry an extra reliever and go with a four man bench.
It’s crazy to say that Rivera won’t be seen at all in 2019, as the often injured Mets may be calling his name throughout the season as insurance. But it’s also not crazy to imagine Rivera being shuttled back and forth in 2019 between Queens and Triple-A Syracuse.
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Rivera will be an interesting player to watch in spring training as he tries to push his way on to the roster. But don’t be surprised if it’s the beginning of the end for Rivera in Queens.